Augusta National Faces Membership Decision For New Female IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
IBM's appointment of Ginni Rometty to CEO means Augusta National will "have to break tradition" in some form, as the golf club "hasn’t admitted a woman as a member since its founding eight decades ago, yet it has historically invited" the IBM CEO to be a member, according to Jinks & Buteau of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Rometty, who "does play golf, though not frequently, inherited the sponsorship from predecessor Sam Palmisano." IBM is one of three Masters sponsors along with ExxonMobil and AT&T and the companies’ male CEOs have been able to "don the club’s signature green member blazers while hosting clients." IBM is "featured in the tournament’s TV commercials and runs its website, mobile-phone applications and media-center technology." The tech company also "provides reporters with individual ThinkPad laptops in the tournament's media center." Augusta National Dir of Communications Steve Ethun "declined to comment, citing a policy that forbids membership-related discussions" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/28).
GENDER ROLES: YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel cited club documents and various online databases as indicating that former IBM CEOs John Akers, Louis Gerstner Jr. and Palmisano are "all current members." Their predecessor, John Opel, was a member "until he died last November." Four previous CEOs, "all deceased, were also reportedly members." Wetzel wrote Augusta "probably never saw this one coming." This is Augusta National Chair Billy Payne’s "big moment." And it is "a simple one." By long-established Augusta National standards, Rometty has "earned an invitation for membership." Payne should "quietly offer it." If Rometty "accepts, then they should bring her in with little fanfare" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/28). USA TODAY'S Christine Brennan writes Payne is in "quite a bind." Brennan asks, "Does he really want that discrimination to continue against the CEO of IBM?" (USA TODAY, 3/29).